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Old 03-09-2016, 12:43 PM   #1
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So what should I title my bus as..

I'm sure this thread has been beaten and battered already, but I cannot find one answering my question.

First off the beauty I'm referring to is a 2001 Freightliner handicap bus. It has the 5.9L Cummings Diesel, and blue bird body. It is a mid sized bus, not full sized. Also has air brakes.

Basically I'm wondering if I would run into any legal issues if I don't convert the title to an RV, and just leave it as it is. My insurance company already told me the titling/registration is not an issue, they would insure it as an RV regardless. As long as it looks and performs as an RV, and I provide pictures to prove so.

Now the license requirements is a sticky subject, mainly because out of the five different dmv clerks I've talked to, in five different cities in Tennessee, had no idea what I should do. Each clerk had conflicting answers to my questions, and I don't feel comfortable trusting any of them honestly. A state trooper told me I'm in the clear, as long as it looks like an RV, and has the amenities of so, I don't need a CDL or any other endorsements. Just a regular license will suffice according to this particular trooper.

I'm not positive if the actual registration will state it as a commercial vehicle, if I leave the title alone. Or if I could register it as a personal bus without having to pay 20 different fees and jump through a months worth of hoops. Which is what an RV title conversion looks like it will consist of.

I'm curious to see if anyone else has taken this route, and if you've had any issues.
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Old 03-09-2016, 12:47 PM   #2
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Depends mostly on local regs & requirements but in nearly all cases, registering as an RV is the best route as far as insurance & such.
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Old 03-09-2016, 12:47 PM   #3
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wait as I find my emails....what part of TN?

Here you go
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
let me find my emails,

have them take the title down to county clerks office, hand the title to clerk and say you need tags for this...DO NOT MAKE A FUSS ABOUT IT BEING A BUS, TN IT DOESN'T MATTER!!!!!!!!

People at tag office don't have a clue (and if they are clueless, they will send it to the next person) so keep it simple, if they say you need x y and z...tell them no you don't and hand them this copy of email


This is email conversation at state level

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Thank you very much
Doug

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

From: Email T&R [mailto:Email.T&R@tn.gov]
Sent: Tuesday, April 24, 2012 9:34 AM
To: Doug
Subject: RE: title info needed


No list on this type of project. Just keep your receipts and/or bill of sales for the things you get to convert.

Maybe from the different info you received it was for a rebuilt vehicle. Like if it was wrecked and you were rebuilding it. But that does not comply to your project.

Hope this helps,
Kathy

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

From: Doug
Sent: Tuesday, April 24, 2012 8:17 AM
To: Email T&R
Subject: RE: title info needed

Kathy

Thank you for the response

I have just been told different things about beds, cooking area and water supplies etc

I just want to do this correctly the first time and had hoped there was an actual list to use as a guide

Thank you
Doug

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

From: Email T&R [mailto:Email.T&R@tn.gov]
Sent: Tuesday, April 24, 2012 9:09 AM
To: Doug Haynes
Subject: RE: title info needed

Good Morning,

Thank you for your email. Did you receive a title for the bus? If so, along with the title and you receipts for the conversion portion of the bus is all that you will need to title and register the vehicle. It may still be coded as a bus in our system, but you will register as a passenger vehicle.

Hope this helps,

Kathy

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

From: Doug
Sent: Tuesday, April 24, 2012 6:04 AM
To: Email T&R
Subject: title info needed

I am buying a used school bus to convert to a motor home

I am looking for the required equipment to comply with a title transfer to a motor home

After several phone calls to local dmv I have received several very different answers

I can not find specific TN ann. codes to cover this

Can you help me?

Thank you
Doug

---------------------------------------------------------------------



Lastly get REGULAR tags you do not need weighted tags...

Here is link:

Current Tennessee License Plate

"Current Tennessee License Plate - This plate is available to Tennessee residents who are registering private passenger motor vehicles known as cars, station wagons, vans or pick-up trucks up to 3/4 ton rating and 9000 pounds and under in weight. This plate is valid for all motor homes regardless of their weight. The annual fee is $21.50."

so you can even get personalized plates.......
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Old 03-09-2016, 12:53 PM   #4
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I also actually was emailing two different people and got same answers, good luck
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Old 03-09-2016, 01:35 PM   #5
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Thanks for the info bansil!

I am located in Clarksville, TN.
And yeah, I found out very quickly that nobody in this area has a clue about this type of project.
I called and spoke with the county clerk manager on staff and she told me there actually is a list of 'codes', I suppose you could call them, to go by if I was to convert the title to an RV. I'll spare the details, but the process she explained sounds to be quite the pain. I am on a time limit for this project, which is a main aspect in my decisions as well.

So if I told the county clerk it is just a bus for my own personal use, they would title it as a passenger vehicle? I'm not positive on the weight of the bus, but I'm pretty sure it's over 9000lbs. The Weight and having air brakes are my main concern, Not sure if there is a solid way around a CDL if I don't convert the title. My thought is really the only way I would get nailed for driving it 'illegally' is if it states on registration that it's a commercial vehicle, and I get pulled over by a cop who wants to ruin my day and push the issue. If it is registered as a passenger vehicle, or RV obviously if I take that route, I don't see anyone giving me a hassle. But any advice is greatly appreciated!!
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Old 03-09-2016, 01:47 PM   #6
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I don't know about TN, but here in Oregon you have to have a class "B" license for anything that has air brakes. It's basically making sure you understand the workings of air brakes for safety as the operator. Large vehicles with hydraulic brakes only require a standard class "C" standard automotive license.

When at the DMV do not volunteer information. Answer questions with brevity and attempt to sway them to your idea of what to do with the bus. The DMV is usually pretty easy if you understand what they're going to want from you. It's the insurance companies that are giving me trouble.
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Old 03-09-2016, 01:51 PM   #7
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Thanks for the info bansil!

I am located in Clarksville, TN.
And yeah, I found out very quickly that nobody in this area has a clue about this type of project.
I called and spoke with the county clerk manager on staff and she told me there actually is a list of 'codes', I suppose you could call them, to go by if I was to convert the title to an RV. I'll spare the details, but the process she explained sounds to be quite the pain. I am on a time limit for this project, which is a main aspect in my decisions as well.

So if I told the county clerk it is just a bus for my own personal use, they would title it as a passenger vehicle? I'm not positive on the weight of the bus, but I'm pretty sure it's over 9000lbs. The Weight and having air brakes are my main concern, Not sure if there is a solid way around a CDL if I don't convert the title. My thought is really the only way I would get nailed for driving it 'illegally' is if it states on registration that it's a commercial vehicle, and I get pulled over by a cop who wants to ruin my day and push the issue. If it is registered as a passenger vehicle, or RV obviously if I take that route, I don't see anyone giving me a hassle. But any advice is greatly appreciated!!
I stayed in Clarkesville when we picked up my bus in Elkton KY.
Monteagle was an experience in a used 40' school bus, for sure!
Welcome, and best of luck in your DMV adventures!
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Old 03-09-2016, 02:33 PM   #8
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walk in to the dmv hand them title/bill of sale and drivers license and say "I just bought this and I need tags for it"

Print off my post with references to tag regulations, and since there are no written list/laws for what is in and classified as an RV or motor home you are good to go

It is NOT commercial so no commercial liscenecs needed, it is a personal vehicle for you to use...what are you using it for? CAMPING...not converting, not turning into an RV...you are just camping in it

It really is that simple, if you want we can chat on the phone this weekend and I can go over this in more detail
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Old 03-09-2016, 02:59 PM   #9
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In California you pay weight fees if it is commercial. RV might be $125 per year, commercial might be $1000-1500.
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Old 03-09-2016, 03:18 PM   #10
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Yeah monteagle is pretty awesome, if you have sufficient horsepower. Haha. But hey, a slow crawl just means more sight seeing
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Old 03-09-2016, 03:22 PM   #11
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walk in to the dmv hand them title/bill of sale and drivers license and say "I just bought this and I need tags for it"

Print off my post with references to tag regulations, and since there are no written list/laws for what is in and classified as an RV or motor home you are good to go

It is NOT commercial so no commercial liscenecs needed, it is a personal vehicle for you to use...what are you using it for? CAMPING...not converting, not turning into an RV...you are just camping in it

It really is that simple, if you want we can chat on the phone this weekend and I can go over this in more detail


Yeah that was my original thoughts, but irritated clerks have raised my worries about just running with it. Only quarry is that info says rated 3/4 ton or lower; or 9000 lb weight or lower. Pretty sure I'm over both of those. But Yeah if you want, I'd love to chat and share some info. Sounds like you're farther along than me on this project
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Old 03-09-2016, 05:33 PM   #12
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my bus cruised on up Monteagle at nearly 45 or so with no problem. Did get a bit warmer than it was running for the whole rest of the trip, but I stopped at the top and let it idle and cool down for 30 mins and then proceeded to descend the grade. Was scary, but in reality my bus didn't mind it at all and performed admirably.
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Old 03-09-2016, 05:40 PM   #13
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Push comes to shove, you can always contact Nashville and get the answers straight from the horse's mouth.
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Old 03-09-2016, 06:04 PM   #14
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In most states, the magic GVWR number is 26K as far as if you need a cdl, with exemptions for RV's. Thing is, your title has to actually say "RV" (or equivilant) for the exemptions to apply. Personally my bus is just under 26K and I have it registered as a Van, and plan on leaving it that way. I could save about $100/yr on insurance if I registered it as an RV, but then if GMAC ever stops doing skoolies, I'm up a creek as far as getting insurance on my vehicle. As a "heavy van" I can get insurance from more or less any insurance broker.
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Old 03-09-2016, 06:25 PM   #15
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In most states, the magic GVWR number is 26K as far as if you need a cdl, with exemptions for RV's. Thing is, your title has to actually say "RV" (or equivilant) for the exemptions to apply. Personally my bus is just under 26K and I have it registered as a Van, and plan on leaving it that way. I could save about $100/yr on insurance if I registered it as an RV, but then if GMAC ever stops doing skoolies, I'm up a creek as far as getting insurance on my vehicle. As a "heavy van" I can get insurance from more or less any insurance broker.

That's what I'm talking about. This is my Maxivan as opposed to the more common minivans. Car plates, and in my case, an unmodified wheel chair bus that can be used for camping or hauling hay like a truck. I'm only at 25k but they're telling me a commercial policy is the only way.
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Old 03-09-2016, 06:29 PM   #16
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That's what I'm talking about. This is my Maxivan as opposed to the more common minivans. Car plates, and in my case, an unmodified wheel chair bus that can be used for camping or hauling hay like a truck. I'm only at 25k but they're telling me a commercial policy is the only way.
Yep, in NY it had to have less than 16 seats, but so long as it could carry both passengers and cargo, it meets the definition for a van.

As far as insurance, I have a "private use" commercial policy through Progressive. I paid $770 for the year, which isn't bad for a younger guy with an accident on my record.
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Old 03-09-2016, 06:35 PM   #17
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Yeah, I am or was in the process of getting a commercial policy through Progressive. State Farm just sent me a lower quote with higher coverage. That surprised me because Nationwide just cancelled on me ten days after beginning the policy.
We're paying about the same but I've got two vehicles on the policy, but then I'm an old fart.
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Old 03-09-2016, 10:25 PM   #18
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Push comes to shove, you can always contact Nashville and get the answers straight from the horse's mouth.

Well I tried that route, a couple times. Even different clerks/locations in Nashville gave me complete opposite answers on the matter. Nobody seems to know what the hell they're talking about.
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Old 03-09-2016, 10:25 PM   #19
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my bus cruised on up Monteagle at nearly 45 or so with no problem. Did get a bit warmer than it was running for the whole rest of the trip, but I stopped at the top and let it idle and cool down for 30 mins and then proceeded to descend the grade. Was scary, but in reality my bus didn't mind it at all and performed admirably.

Sounds like a fun adventure, can't wait to see what mine is capable of. What are you running?
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Old 03-09-2016, 10:35 PM   #20
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In most states, the magic GVWR number is 26K as far as if you need a cdl, with exemptions for RV's. Thing is, your title has to actually say "RV" (or equivilant) for the exemptions to apply. Personally my bus is just under 26K and I have it registered as a Van, and plan on leaving it that way. I could save about $100/yr on insurance if I registered it as an RV, but then if GMAC ever stops doing skoolies, I'm up a creek as far as getting insurance on my vehicle. As a "heavy van" I can get insurance from more or less any insurance broker.

I'll have to double check my GVWR, but there seems to be a grey area no matter which way you look at it, in the state of Tennessee that is. What does titling as a "heavy van" consist of? I know converting to an RV title is a pretty painstaking process. Also, according to farm bureau (my daily driver insurance), they would only charge roughly $16 a month for RV insurance, for a 23 yr old male. And they will insure it as an "RV" regardless of title status. As long as it is built and used as an RV. Just a bit of knowledge in case that is helpful to anyone. Now would the registration display what it is titled as? Considering nobody would carry their title around in their vehicle. if I was to be questioned on the issue, the vehicle registration would at first determine what license endorsements I would need to the eyes of a loving police officer.
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